Category Archives: Culture Vulture

Our fine local arts establishment


Never more than one overpriced, underperforming art installation away from self-inflicted disaster, the elitist arty-farties of Harbourside’s ‘contemporary art’ gallery ARNOLFINI really have been surpassing themselves over the last year or so.

Not only did they manage to lose an entire ‘Executive Team’ in the space of a month, but their tenants – spread over three voluminous floors of their prestigious, cash-generating Bush House headquarters – all quit. If that wasn’t enough, they then uncovered a large black hole in the finances of around £360K – and promptly FIRED THEIR OWN AUDITORS, Grant Thornton!

Meanwhile, a deranged “recovery plan” to convert the top three floors of the Bush House bunker – at public expense! – into an “art hotel” predictably flopped.

At the height of last autumn’s crisis, the place had to be run by a sub-committee of posh twits from the Analphoney board of trustees. That was because centre director TOM TREVOR was frogmarched off the premises in October so that he could, er, “pursue a number of international curatorial projects”! Presumably he didn’t have a family to “spend more time with”, then?

Trevor was escorted out the door right after the other half of the “executive team”, finance chief and our old friend BRENDA ‘WISE MONKEY’ MCLENNAN, was herself ‘disappeared’ from the organisation without explanation last August.

Brenda, you may recall, is currently vice-chair of Bristol City Council’s financial watchdog, the Audit Committee. So despite an organisation apparently sinking faster than the Titanic on her watch, she got a job overseeing sound financial practice at the council! (But then again, between 2009-2013 she notched up a not-to-be-sniffed-at £1,958.53 in expenses from the council, which suggests a certain amount of flair…)

You may recall that Brenda – she of the £800k Clifton Wood mansion – was a candidate at the last election for George Ferguson’s INDYREDPANTS PARTY, promising that she was going “to shake things up” at the Council House. Well, she’s certainly managed to shake things up at the ‘Phoney!

Other victims of the mass clear out include colourfully-named former chair LOVEDAY SHEWELL. She quietly left after six years in the post in July 2012. Although oddly, despite the UK’s arty-fartie-bore-in-chief Sir Nicolas Serota describing the ‘Phoney as “one of a handful of the most significant cultural centres in Europe,” Ms Shewell has mysteriously left her time with the gallery off her extensive CV. Why could that be?

Meanwhile, that renowned patron of the arts, business genius and financial whiz – MAYOR FERGO himself – hastily quit his post on the board of trustees in December 2012.

Demonstrating, yet again, that George’s instinct for survival outstrips his business acumen by some way.


Another fine example of exceptional diplomatic skills from our SOFT-HANDED MAYOR, who was born with a silver spoon and has never done a hard day’s graft done in his entire over-privileged life.

During one of his regular morning appearances on Radio Bristol’s Alan Partridge and Friends show (surely you mean the hard-hitting Steve Le Fevre at Breakfast show? – Ed.), Fergo was asked about his madcap plans to make an eighth of his workforce redundant seemingly at random.

“Well,” blustered the Mayor, unable to explain coherently what he’s doing or to understand the effect it may have on the city’s public services, “the council isn’t an employment charity.”

No doubt this vote of mayoral confidence in his hardworking staff and his view on the workings of the city’s public services will go down a storm with a demoralised workforce.

Because it’s always nice to be told by some wealthy, idle tosser that you’re just sat on your backside doing sweet F.A. for a living isn’t it?


Word reaches us that BRENDA ‘WISE MONKEY’ MCLENNAN is no longer the Finance boss at the Arnolfini arts centre by the Floating Harbour. Sources there have been keen to distance themselves from her for some reason, and have been at pains to emphasise that they parted ways in October. Why could that be?

Whilst not boasting the same name recognition as His Redtrouserness, you may remember McLennan from her unsuccessful bid for a council seat back in May, when she ran as the public-spirited, politically independent candidate in Clifton for the INDYREDPANTS PARTY, that ragbag of gormless cheerleaders for King George.

What you might not know is that this ‘outsider’ to Bristol’s local politics is also now the Deputy Chair of the City Council’s Audit Committee – which is responsible for ensuring sound management of our money and clamping down on fraud and corruption within BCC. If nothing else, this unusual appointment of one of the Mayor’s keenest public supporters brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘politically independent’.

Certainly Ms McLennan (who has racked up thousands of pounds in expenses) has wasted no time in showing the kind of gumption needed to “shake things up” at Shitty Hall by, err… Not turning up for the most important Audit Committee meeting of year!

That’s right, for reasons unknown, Ms Mclennan – one of only two people providing allegedly independent oversight of council finances – failed to show at the Committee meeting in September, where the council’s audited accounts for the 2012-13 were agreed and signed off (without a hitch, natch).

Also on the agenda at the meeting was the report from the council’s Internal Audit Department cataloguing the series of gross financial failures across the organisation. These included theft, wholesale non-compliance with procurement regulations, dodgy management of cash accounts and – even – a very special mention for The BRISTOLIAN’s bête noire, Facilities Service Manager Tony ‘Toerag’ Harvey’s bent Markets Service!

So nothing there that would in any way interest an independent election candidate who wants to “shake things up” at Bristol City Council then!


Gary Hopkins Meat Raffle competition winner @guriben presented with his prize and official certificate by BRISTOLIAN intern Jooohn Ag Jnr

The Gary Hopkins Portrait Meat Raffle 2013 competition winner @guriben presented with his pork prize and official certificate by The BRISTOLIAN’s spokespirate Jooohn Ag

That Gary Hopkins Meat Raffle prize certificate in full

That Gary Hopkins Meat Raffle prize certificate in full

It was with great pleasure that The BRISTOLIAN‘s spokespirate Jooohn Ag was today able to present the winner of the inaugural Gary Hopkins Portrait Meat Raffle competition, local internet personality @guriben, with his prize: a bag of meat to the value of £5, plus a certificate.

At a glittering ceremony hosted at the Bristol home of international piracy, the Llandoger Trow on King Street, @guriben received three tubes of what can only be described as rather grey-looking ‘sausage meat’ from one of south Bristol’s finest budget butcher’s.

Sadly the competition’s muse, Councillor Hopkins, was unable to attend himself due to a last-minute airport run.

Said the talented artist, whose exposure through The BRISTOLIAN has now brought him commissions:

I really wasn’t expected a real meat prize!

Well, the prize is definitely real, but we make no claims as to whether it is ‘meat’ or not…


‘Meat Zeppelin’, Councillor Gary Hopkins, watercolours, 2013, @guriben

‘Meat Zeppelin’, Councillor Gary Hopkins, watercolours, 2013, @guriben

After a week of hard voting, Bristol has spoken – @guriben wins the Official Gary Hopkins Portrait Meat Raffle Competition with his marvellous painting entitled ‘Meat Zeppelin’.

A special presentation of a £5 barrel bag of pork (painter’s preferred meat) will be made to the victorious artist sometime in the near future, hopefully with photographs and everything…

Congratulations to @guriben, and to all the other entrants – because in a way, we’re all winners (except Cllr Hopkins, that is).


[polldaddy poll=7465155]

Right, polling is now open – and will remain open until 5pm, Monday 4 November 2013 – so now is the time to choose the portrait which you think best encapsulates Bristol City Council’s GARY HOPKINS, Lib Dem councillor for Knowle.

There’s a £5 bag of meat (or meat substitute) at stake for the artists, so please poll responsibly…


‘Vlad Dracul’


Councillor Simon Cook, pencil & watercolours, 2013, @guriben

Here’s @guriben’s eerie take on actor Simon Cook, who in his spare time is the yin to Christian Martin’s yang as a Lib Dem councillor for Clifton East, as well as mismanaging the leisure, tourism, licensing and community safety portfolio within Mayor George Ferguson’s Cabinet. Just in time for Hallowe’en!

If Bristol City Council doesn’t snap him up soon as its official artist, then he will likely be snapped up by South Gloucestershire, BANES or – worst of all – North Somerset…


‘Kind But Still’

Councillor Gary Hopkins, ink and brush, 2013, Jeff from Bedminster

Councillor Gary Hopkins, ink and brush, 2013, Jeff from Bedminster

The entries for the Official BRISTOLIAN Gary Hopkins Portrait Meat Raffle Competition are coming in thick and fast – this just in via email from Jeff in Bedminster.

In the words of the artist:

Ive been a bit to kind i think but still…

Remember, voting for the best portrait takes place all next week!